There’s many things that SYRIZA has “cleaned up” during its three-plus year reign in power in Greece: the oligarchs (by insisting upon giving them licenses to broadcast), corruption (by dusting off the long-buried “Novartis scandal” in order to get the Macedonia rallies and name issue out of the news cycle), and football.
Indeed, football in Greece now is so squeaky clean, that, as reported yesterday by Hellenic Insider, court decisions are issued at 1 am the evening before a match in order to overturn punishments for fans throwing an object and injuring an opposing coach, and pro-SYRIZA team owners, presidents and oligarchs storm the pitch fully armed and loaded.
Such was the case on Sunday’s “derby” between the two current front runners in this year’s Super League, PAOK and AEK, a match which took place in front of spectators following yesterday evening’s unprecedented decision overturning penalties that had previously been levied against PAOK, after a fan hurled an object at the opposing coach and injured him in PAOK’s prior to the previous home match versus Olympiacos, a match which never began as a result of this incident.
Sunday’s match between PAOK and AEK went off largely without a hitch until the 90th and final minute, when PAOK scored a controversial goal which was initially allowed by the referee, but after several minutes of apparent indecision, was later overruled as being off sides. Mayhem ensued, not so much on the part of the spectators but on the part of PAOK’s management.
An armed Ivan Savvidis, PAOK’s owner and president, stormed the pitch, threatening the referee (reportedly telling him “you are a dead man”) and urging his players to abandon the match and return to the locker room. AEK players and coaches were reportedly also threatened.
Further photos of the Ivan Savvidis brandishing a weapon can be seen here.
As of 11:40 pm Sunday evening in Greece, it is still unclear whether:
- PAOK’s goal will count or not
- If the match will merely be “postponed” (and presumably… continued at some later date) or whether it will be officially suspended
- Who will be held responsible, if anyone, for tonight’s latest disgraceful incidents on the football pitch
What is being rumored, however, on reports aired on the state-owned and brazenly pro-SYRIZA ERA Sport radio station, is that the referee may close the match with… AEK being held responsible for its non-completion.
In other words, an armed oligarch storms the pitch, but the opposing team is threatened with being penalized. And in still other words, a goal which was later overturned may end up being reinstated, several hours later, by the referees located in the… locker room in the bowels of PAOK FC Arena.
It bears noting that Ivan Savvidis is unabashedly pro-SYRIZA and has benefited greatly from the current government, having bought out public assets that have been privatized, while PAOK has been the seeming beneficiary of favorable officiating in this year’s Super League and Greek Cup matches — two football competitions which SYRIZA repeatedly has claimed to have “cleansed of corruption.”
Ironically, AEK’s owner, fellow oligarch Dimitris Melissanidis, is also said to be favorable to SYRIZA, while a clear conflict of interest exists, as he subsequently owns Greece’s previously state-owned sports betting and lottery organization, OPAP. However, his ties to SYRIZA do not seem to be as strong as those of Savvidis.
It should additionally be noted that last season’s Greek Cup final, also between PAOK and AEK and held in the neutral site of the Panthessalian Stadium in the city of Volos, degenerated into gang violence between supporters of the two squads, even as SYRIZA proclaimed that (presumably by making life difficult for perennial champion Olympiacos) Greek football had been “cleaned up.” Today though, it was not gangster hooligans but gangster oligarchs who stole the show, quite literally.
It is also being rumored that the government which has “cleaned” Greek football, is now considering the postponement of the upcoming matches of the Greek Super League, thereby punishing everybody for the actions of a few. Such a decision would endanger the participation of Greece’s teams, both at the club and national team level, in UEFA and FIFA competitions.
Such is life in the Greece of the “radical leftist” SYRIZA in 2018. A country where corruption has been “cleansed” — by being replaced by an all-out gangster state, one where all of the gangsters wear suits, even if not all of them wear ties.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.